|THE LAST DRAGON
|Copyright 1985 TriStar Pictures
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 31 January 2002
- Bruce Leroy - Pious student of the martial arts searching for "The Glow," a manifestation of perfect kung fu.
- Laura - Vanity! Where in the world did she get those plumb line earrings?
- Master - Friendly little fellow with a strange sense of humor. His mom lives in Miami.
- Richie - Our hero's brother. Maybe he should avoid landing on fire extinguishers.
- Angela - I didn't think that a middle aged woman would make a good pop star. I was right.
- Johnny Yu - Student at Leroy's dojo. He does not know how to fight, but has found that attackers will sometimes flee from a screaming Asian man.
- Eddie Arkadian - It seems that the mob is moving into the arcade business.
- Rock - Arkadian's muscle, a failed prizefighter. The man's idea of fashion is plaid, just plaid.
- Sho'nuff - This is one big angry dude! A brutal wielder of kung fu, he will stop at nothing to be the undisputed master.
|Learning and study are certainly worthwhile pursuits. Still, there comes a time in everyone's life when they must cease to be just a student and make their own contributions. This is the dilemma facing Leroy when the movie begins. Having practiced and studied for years under the Master's patient tutelage, he has finally attained the pinnacle of skill possible while a student. To finally achieve "The Glow" he must reach the final level on his own. The sudden lack of supervision terrifies Leroy and he begs the Master for guidance. With a sly look in his eyes, the old man fishes out a suspicious looking charm. There is another who might assist Leroy in getting "The Glow" and the amulet will prove his sincerity. The young disciple's relief at the news is almost overwhelming.
The next scene takes us to a movie theater where a rowdy crowd is watching "Enter the Dragon." Interruptions and distractions are rampant. If the people setting up a boom box and dancing do not distract you then the guy who leaps into the air and crushes it will. As if all that wasn't enough, the self-proclaimed shogun of Harlem walks in with his entourage. Sho'nuff is soon on the stage, shrieking for challengers. Despite the best efforts of several energetic members of the audience he remains king of the stage. The only problem is that Bruce Leroy will not get up and fight. His calm refusal almost drives Sho'nuff insane. A general brawl breaks out, during which the hero calmly picks his way out of the theater.
Meanwhile, Laura is hosting the latest installment of "7th Heaven," a show akin to "Solid Gold." Despite the pleasant requests of one of her crew (some unknown actor who would look more comfortable with a hard hat on his head and a shovel in hand), she refuses to play a music video sent in by Mr. Arkadian. Easily the smartest thing I have seen someone do in my life, because the video is of Angela singing "Dirty Boy." It causes me to think about Mae West trying to make a Madonna video. Which causes flashbacks of Sextette. Which causes psychological defense mechanisms to kick in and then I suffer from short periods of amnesia.
What was I talking about?
Repression aside, Eddie is angry at the pop star's gall. He sends a small squad of goons to grab Laura. Fortunately, Leroy is nearby and intercedes; he beats the pants off the toughs, then politely summons a cab for the amazed lady before disappearing. Laura finds the amulet, dropped during the fight, and knows that he will visit her to reclaim it.
I must take a moment to comment on Taimak's portrayal of the main character, because it really makes the movie. Bruce Leroy talks in a soft voice that is almost a whisper. When very angry or confused it gains a subtle edge, but not enough to disturb the illusion of an inner calm. No, our hero has a heart of gold and a face that always seems to be on the edge of breaking into an unabashed smile. Even when kicking butt, he looks nothing more than intent. Not angry, not dangerous, not hateful, but serious.
Sho'nuff steadily turns up the pressure on Leroy for a final reckoning. First he shows up at the modest dojo where the protagonist teaches others. Still no rise, so the shogun's gang wrecks the pizza shop owned by Leroy's father. While the evildoers are wrecking the place they are also forced to dodge large wads of pizza dough chucked by Leroy's mother. Nothing like getting smacked in the head with a few pounds of wet dough.
The mobsters are not at rest either; another attempt to kidnap Laura works out better than the first. Unfortunately, right after getting her back to the apartment, a mysterious ninja appears. Once again Eddie watches in helpless rage while Leroy sends thugs flying. During the fracas the ninja is unmasked, meaning the bad guys know who to blame. The next day Rock starts interviewing various murderers and hit men for the job of knocking Bruce off.
At first Leroy has little interest in Laura as a woman. Later, while doing some soul searching, he decides there just might be something to this whole boy - girl thing. They are on the empty "7th Heaven" set, with Laura trying to teach him a few moves, when she turns on a special music video. Clips from a number of Bruce Lee movies roll while the music plays. Leroy is entranced, not by the girl, but by the video! He stares at it in rapt attention until a clip shows his idol kissing (that Laura is one shrewd woman).
The passionate embrace is broken by Bruce Leroy's sudden insight. He had found a fortune cookie factory called "Sum Dum Goy" (the other teacher his master spoke of) while walking through the city. Blocking his way to complete harmony and skill are the three employees who mind the shop. When not running Leroy off, this trio apparently spends the day being weird. Three Asian men performing "Uptown Girl" to rap music weird. Anyway, Leroy finally has a plan to bluff his way in and meet Sum Dum Goy in person.
You might have guessed that when the questing disciple meets the master of fortunes he is a little disappointed. Leroy hurries over to his teacher's home with a slew of uncertain questions. It is against the rules not to be cryptic, but the Master pretty much tells Leroy that he needs no more teaching. Our hero might be affable, but he is also incredibly dense; all this goes over his head. You and I know that to achieve "The Glow," Leroy must believe in himself.
Back at the studio, Arkadian has Laura hostage and his small army (Sho'nuff included) is waiting for Leroy. Angela was never happy with her boyfriend's actions, so she packs up and leaves, only pausing to deliver a warning to the hero. Everything is set for the final battle between Sho'nuff, who has a partial mastery of the final level, and Bruce Leroy.
The music videos, with guys and girls singing in high notes, were giving me 80s flashbacks, but enjoyable. The movie is well done (good photography) and paced with interesting fight scenes every so often, just in case the outlandish characters are not keeping you entertained. Come on, just look at Sho'nuff. He struts around in outfits that look like a cross between the San Francisco 49'ers pads and samurai armor. Bruce Leroy wanders through town wearing a broad-rimmed straw hat, with a simple black suit completing the ensemble.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- To achieve true consciousness one must watch lots of Bruce Lee flicks.
- In movies, when a woman's purse is dumped out it never contains a tampon.
- Male pattern baldness is caused by piranha.
- Football gear is based on samurai armor.
- Hit men and murderers have resumes; it just takes a strong stomach to read them.
- Reflectors look best on cars and bicycles, maybe running shoes, but definitely not hairdos.
- Craps and hopscotch do not mix.
- Your personal aura can short out.
- 3 mins - Stop shooting arrows at me. I'm trying to practice.
- 10 mins - He is eating popcorn with chopsticks!
- 37 mins - Rap crossed with haiku. Bizarre.
- 42 mins - Should have had something to keep your hood on...
- 49 mins - Um, he stole your hat.
- 50 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST LATTICEWORK!
- 75 mins - HUH?
- 78 mins - Now they took your medallion! Are you going to get mad or what?
- 88 mins - Santa?
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Master: "You have touched the final level! You knew without knowing. We have finished our journey together."
||Richie: "What good is that kung fu jive if you can't even use it? Coward."
||Laura: "A girl could do worse than to have her own real, live kung fu master." |
Leroy: "I am no master."
||Sho'nuff having a pep rally.
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Arkadian's goons were trying to kidnap Laura, but Leroy was nearby and he intervenes. Watch how he shrugs off the insult to his mother; true discipline.
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |